The party works

People, volunteers, regular folks can make a difference.

Consider Ridgefield’s “post-grad party” for each new class of Ridgefield High School graduates on their big night.

The alcohol-free event was started after a graduation night tragedy in 1983. It challenged an ingrained tradition of graduation night as a time of alcoholic excess among young people that was, if not sanctioned by society, pretty widely accepted by the adult world. Boys will be boys...

No! said the event’s early organizers. They put in tremendous time and effort — and came up with an approach of luring the graduates to the PTSA-sponsored party by offering not just a good time but a plethora of prizes, including expensive electronic stuff useful at college. It worked. They got the most of grads to show up at the party with zero alcohol, and stay until the wee hours.

After all, everyone else was there. And graduation night’s about being together.

Following and building upon that model, and on the backs of dedicated volunteers, the party has become a thriving tradition that’s now 35 years old. Organizers expect 85% of the Class of 2018 will be at the Recreation Center Friday night — playing games, dancing to a DJ, eating fun food, collecting prizes — not drinking, not roaring around the roads.

Thanks to all who help keep the kids safe.